The immortal Greek king
stands in a cool pool
of refreshing water
cursed to flee his lips.
Meanwhile, a plain girl
in deep, shunned shade
sits by the playground
watching pretty kids play.
“You can’t be thirsty,”
Hades tells the king.
“The water’s right here;
perhaps you aren’t trying.”
The girl knows she’s fat,
her clothes dorky, old,
her glasses nerd-thick;
the kids have told her so.
“You can’t possibly be lonely
with so many classmates,”
her mom remarked at breakfast.
“I had lots of friends at your age.”
“Eat your waffles,” her father said.
“You think you have problems?
The receptionist the agency sent
is the fattest whale you ever saw.”
The girl didn’t remind him that
on the receptionist’s first day
school let out early for Easter
and so she walked to his office.
The new receptionist was reading
a Wonder Woman comic and greeted
the girl with a smile. And they chatted
about Amazons, heroes and gorgons.
“Can she type?” her mom asked.
“Who cares if she can type?” he said.
“I’m running a business, not SeaWorld.
Customers run from a face like hers.”
The shaded girl opens her backpack:
there’s the sack of colorful plastic snakes
her mom wouldn’t buy at the dollar store
saying they were for boys & ugly besides.
So, when nobody was looking,
the girl shoved it under her shirt
next to her hammering heart
and walked out, head high.
She winds the vinyl serpents
into her hair like daisies
jumps up and lunges
at the kids, hissing
into each frightened face
to respect the goddess
or else her vengeance
shall turn them all to stone.
She’s hauled off
to the principal’s office
and he asks her, “Why?”
But she is proudly silent.
Her parents fuss, but it’s fine.
Detention doesn’t hurt
any worse than mirrors
& she can steal more snakes
to keep for the next time.